Carol Knauss

Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Dr. Peter Schmitt

Second Advisor

Dr. Larry Massie

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Open Access


Bronson Park is a 3.6-acre tract of land in the center of downtown Kalamazoo. For over 130 years the city has used this land for a public park. The land originally was donated to the county for a school and a jail by the men who owned and platted the area. Interested citizens converted the two squares into a park which, in the following years, was improved with trees, walks, and a fountain. This park became an important meeting place for the villagers who held political rallies and celebrations there. From 1829 to 1940 both the appearance and the way people used the park changed. Grand private residences around the park were replaced by public buildings. Various citizen groups placed memorials in the park. Large celebrations were moved to places with more space. The W.P.A. projects of the late 1930s brought new life to the park with a total refurbishing and a new fountain. The new civic auditorium and a W.P.A. sponsored county building completed the setting for Bronson Park as the focus of a government/cultural center in Kalamazoo. But through all the changes Bronson Park remained a special place in the concern and affection of the Kalamazoo citizens.